Your email address will not be published. God has used His almighty power, wisdom, and goodness to bind His creatures to act in a sinful way. Both cannot be true. The Westminster Confession and Catechisms speak of sin in two ways: the definition of what sin is and the sinful condition of humanity. Therefore, there has been much discussion among theologians as to what verb should best describes God’s agency in regard to evil. God foreknows and foreordains everything, including evil; nevertheless, he is not the author of sin. But I am not conflating the two (nor does the Westminster Confession of Faith). God is holy, so God cannot be responsible for creating and causing sin. First, they insisted that God is holy and righteous while decreeing sin. . James 4:17.Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin. The Bible instructs believers to examine themselves, but does it tell us to what extent or how often we should question our salvation? The 1646 Westminster Confession of Faith is highly esteemed among Calvinists. But as we saw [in chapter 8] libertarian freedom is incoherent and unbiblical. Somehow, we must confess both that God has a role in bringing evil about, and that in doing so he is holy and blameless. . Ch3 of the W.C.of F. says "neither is God the author of sin". How can we be expected to accept this? I. The confession states that the fall and all other sins were foreordained by divine providence; however, the confession also teaches that sin "proceedeth only from the creature, and not from God". Of the Holy Scripture; Of God, and of the Holy Trinity ... yet so, as thereby neither is God the author of sin, nor is violence offered to the will of the creatures; nor is the liberty or contingency of second causes taken away, but rather established. Dr. Frame and P&R Publishing have graciously given us permission to quote his Doctrine of God at length. God does harden hearts, and through his prophets he predicts sinful human actions long in advance, indicating that he is in control of human free decisions. So theologians need to give some careful thought about which of these terms, if any, should be affirmed, and in what sense. They state that because the sinful act was not actually performed by God Himself, but only by the creature, God is not responsible for the sin. We are told that everything that happens—good or bad—is part of God’s will. God hath endued the will of man with that natural liberty, that is neither forced, nor by … God is holy, so everything God wills and desires must be holy. . With one breath they say that nothing happens outside of God’s will, that God is in control of all things, that He alone is sovereign, and that He, according to His almighty power, wisdom, and goodness, has bound or compelled man to sin. decree with respect to everlasting state of men and angels . All Rights Reserved. Regarding the issue of sin, how it came about, and who is responsible, The Westminster Confession of Faith says: The almighty power, unsearchable wisdom, and infinite goodness of God so far manifest themselves in his providence, that it extendeth itself even to the first fall, and all other sins of angels and men; and that not by a bare permission, but such as hath joined with it a most wise and powerful bounding, and otherwise ordering, and governing of them, in a manifold dispensation, to his own holy ends; yet so, as the sinfulness thereof proceedeth only from the creature, and not from God, who, being most holy and righteous, neither is nor can be the author or approver of sin.[1]. The confession affirms both because the Bible teaches both, but it does not attempt to reconcile them completely, only to declare what the Bible declares without diminishing one truth in favor of another. Nevertheless, the authors of this confession denied such a claim. That man is responsible for his wicked actions is made so plain from the beginning of the Bible to the end that it is quite useless to cite individual proof texts. [3] If God had a holy motive why Jesus alone should fulfil the Law {total obedience} then God might have a holy motive to withhold from man the grace to obey His Law/command. According to this confession, God “binds” and “orders” in His “governing” of all things including “the first fall” and “all other sins of angels and men,” but is not the “author or approver of sin” because God is “holy and righteous.” God is said here not to merely grant His creation permission to sin, but that God binds them to sin. Covenant theology, Christ's mediation and … Not only this, but God has determined every action in advance. 5. I.God from all eternity, did, by the most wise andholy counsel of His own will, freely, and unchangeably ordainwhatsoever comes to pass;[1] yet so, as thereby neither isGod the author of sin,[2] nor is violence offered to the willof the creatures; nor is the liberty or contingency of second causestaken away, but rather established. The following piece may be the least known, but most important, short document of the Westminster Assembly. The We stminster Confession of Faith Chapter I Of the Holy Scripture I. Required fields are marked *. The Westminster Confession of Faith makes bold statements about God’s ordaining all things after the counsel of His own will from eternity past, binding His creatures to that will, and ordering or governing His creatures to accomplish His will. Of Free Will God hath endued the will of man with that natural liberty, that it is neither forced, nor, by … All of our resources exist to guide you toward everlasting joy in Jesus Christ. "Of God's Eternal Decree". God hath endued the will of man with that natural liberty, that is neither forced nor by … 3. Do we want to say that God is the “cause” of evil? God's sovereignty would include the means God allows for wickedness to happen in our world. A third question which comes to mind is, “If God’s creatures act in a way which is obedient to God’s predestination, wisdom, binding, ordering, and governing, then how can God not approve of those actions? For further clarification of this issue, let us examine another portion of The Westminster Confession of Faith, “God from all eternity did by the most wise and holy counsel of his own will, freely and unchangeably ordain whatsoever comes to pass; yet so as thereby neither is God the author of sin; nor is violence offered to the will of the creatures, nor is the liberty or contingency of second causes taken away, but rather established.”[2]. Yet he does so in such a way that he is neither the author of sin nor does he obliterate the reality of secondary causes (WCF 3.1). WESTMINSTER CONFESSION OF FAITH ... but wholly on God (who is truth itself), the author of it. Copyright © 2011 by Timothy Zebell. Despite this denial in a major Reformed confession, Arminians regularly charge that Reformed theology makes God the author of sin. Chapter III. There are various advantages and disadvantages among the different terms. I. It then directly contradicts these claims by stating that God neither authors those actions, nor approves of them. However, we are also told that God is not the author or approver of sin. Now theologians have found it difficult to formulate in general terms how God acts to bring about those sinful actions. 1 So the [Westminster Confession] says that God “neither is nor can be the author or approver of sin” (5:4). A: Sin is any want of conformity unto, or transgression of, the law of God. ↩, David Mathis is executive editor for desiringGod.org and pastor at. The Westminster Confession of Faith in Modern English1 Prepared by Dr. James A. Hughes Contents ... the result that neither is God the author of sin nor is the will of the creatures violated, nor is the liberty or contingency of the creatures taken away, but rather established. Learn vocabulary, terms, and more with flashcards, games, and other study tools. Chapter III of the Westminster Confession. Let us consider some of those that are most frequently discussed. . . The twin truths that God decrees sin but is not the author of sin must be held together in tension. God, from all eternity, did, by the most wise and holy counsel of his own will, freely, and unchangeably ordain whatsoever comes to pass: yet so, as thereby neither is God the author of sin, nor is violence offered to the will of the creatures; nor is the liberty or contingency of second causes taken away, but rather established. . One can make something which is entirely different from oneself. In their view, nothing less than libertarian freedom will serve to absolve God from the charge of authoring sin. Start studying Westminster Confession of Faith. Chapter III "Of God's Eternal Decree" God from all eternity, did, by the most wise and holy counsel of … Nevertheless, we are told that God is not the author of those actions. The Westminster Confession of Faith appears to explicitly state that God is the author of sin. THE WESTMINSTER STANDARDS ON SIN. But it is equally clear … The term authors is almost universally condemned in the theological literature. [I]t seems that if God causes sin and evil, he must be to blame for it. Habits of Grace: Enjoying Jesus Through the Spiritual Disciplines. He orders and governs their actions. because it illustrates how God can decree all things, yet be free of sin Himself 6. The Westminster Confession. He is not the author of evil and does no malevolence, for this would be contrary to His holy nature. Of Free Will. Q: What is sin? The plight of all humanity is that we are lovers of sin and sons of disobedience. The Westminster Confession itself explains that God ordains whatsoever comes to pass. Westminster Confession of Faith. He cannot sin, … Westminster theology is a doctrine of hope and confidence. e.g. …the Westminster Confession on secondary causes and the author of sin: “God, from all eternity, did, by the most wise and holy counsel of his own will, freely, and unchangeably ordain whatsoever comes to pass: yet so, as thereby neither is God the author of sin, nor is violence offered to the will of the creatures; nor is the liberty or contingency of second causes taken away, but rather … . So in bringing sin to pass he does not himself commit sin. The second way we might overturn the Westminster statement, is addressing the Greek word they are renderin in the Westminster Confession as “Heaven.” While it may not preclude the understanding of Westminster, Jesus actual statement is that the thief will be with him in Paradise. Briefly stated, the argument of second causes maintains that because God is only the primary cause of sin, while man is the secondary cause of sin, God cannot be held responsible. Thus, every sinful act was predetermined from eternity past and is in perfect agreement with what God willed and ordained. Despite this denial in a major Reformed confession, Arminians regularly charge that Reformed theology makes God the author of sin. They assume that if God brings about evil in any sense, he must therefore approve it and deserve the blame. The Westminster Confession refuses to give ground on either of these truths because both are taught in Holy Scripture. However, even if this argument is accepted as true, it still fails to explain how God is not the author of the action. In a situation like this, none of the possibilities is fully adequate. Nevertheless, the authors of this confession denied such a claim. It is an integral supporting document in the explanation of their doctrines. The excerpts below (and in the next 3 parts of this series) are not available elsewhere on the web. God hath endued the will of man with that natural liberty, that is neither forced, nor by … The Westminster Confession of Faith is still used as an expression of sound biblical doctrine. . Consequently, John Calvin concludes that if God wills and desires a sinful action, He must have a good and holy intention for it. Of Free Will. This confession of faith clearly states that the fall of mankind, the rebellion of Lucifer and his followers, and every sin of man occurs because of God’s almighty power, wisdom, and goodness. A Biblical Look at the Argument of Second Causes. God, as the primary and efficient cause of all things, is not only the Author of those actions done by His elect as actions, but also as they are good actions, whereas, on the other hand, though He may be said to be the Author of all the actions done by the wicked, yet He is not the Author of them in a moral and compound sense as they are sinful; but physically, simply and sensu diviso [1] as … Then, with another breath, they say that God is holy, righteous, and is not responsible for sin. *[3] It was man, not God, who actually performed the action, so God’s hands are clean. What is predestination? Yes, man is responsible for his wicked actions; and no, God is not the author of sin. If you get some help here, we’d highly recommend purchasing The Doctrine of God. God from all eternity, did, by the most wise and holy counsel of His own will, freely, and unchangeably ordain whatsoever comes to pass, yet so, as thereby neither is God the author of sin, nor is violence offered to the will of the creatures; nor is the liberty or contingency of second causes taken away, but rather established. Many of these are extra-scriptural terms; none of them are perfectly easy to define in this context. Desiring God has received a batch of emails in response—some more heated than others!—questioning (or outright disagreeing with) God’s sovereignty over sin. 1 1 John 3:4.Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law. How can this be? To deny this, or to charge God with wickedness on account of it, is not open to a Bible-believing Christian. A book was circulated in London arguing that God is the Author even of Sin, this being purportedly for the benefit of saints taking comfort in this in their trials. This Westminster Confession of Faith Study Workbook: Teacher’s Manual provides ... God is sovereign over all yet not the author or doer of sin? Nothing about that model implies that God commits or approves of sin. What other conclusion could be reasonably drawn? Although the light of nature, and the works of creation and providence do so far manifest the goodness, wisdom, and power of God, as to leave men unexcusable;1 yet are they not sufficient to give that knowledge of God… In fact I shall argue later that it provides us a reason to deny that. God's sovereignty in the case we are considering has been displayed most prominently with the fact of His choice to create creatures with free will. God is not, in fact, really like the little boy staring through the candy shop window. The Westminster divines were careful, however, to fence off the doctrine of God’s eternal decree from any kind of fatalism. I. ... God is not the author of sin nor does He offer violence to the will of His creatures. . Westminster Confession (A.D. 1647) by Matt Slick | Nov 25, 2008 ... yet so as thereby neither is God the author of sin; nor is violence offered to the will of the creatures, nor is the liberty or contingency of second causes taken away, but rather established. Words are the theologian’s tools. I. That language is certainly problematic, since we usually associate cause with blame. It is rarely defined, but it seems to mean both that God is the efficient cause of evil and that by causing evil he actually does something wrong.1 So the [Westminster Confession] says that God “neither is nor can be the author or approver of sin” (5:4). The confession is very clear, as is Scripture, that God permits evil to exist for a time, but that He is never the first cause of evil (WCF 5.4). Your email address will not be published. The Westminster Confession of Faith provides us with a beautiful example of the contradiction inherent in the theology and writings of Calvinists. The Westminster Confession of Faith appears to explicitly state that God is the author of sin. In his last three sermons, John Piper has made some provocative statements about God’s sovereignty over sin. Is God the Author of Sin? Of God's Eternal Decree. The headings are added; the paragraphs are Dr. Frame’s. It’s not enough to render the soul immortal as they have. And as we saw [in chapter 4] God does bring about sinful human actions. 1. None of this completely resolves the mystery, of course. This is part 1 of a 4-part series on how to talk about God's sovereignty over sin. Sin is transgression and lack of conformity to God’s law (WCF 6.6, WLC 24, WSC 14). The inherent contradiction in this statement is apparent. God does bring sins about, but always for his own good purposes. It is rarely defined, but it seems to mean both that God is the efficient cause of evil and that by causing evil he actually does something wrong. . I. They are logically inconsistent. This makes us by nature children of wrath. Nonetheless, Calvinists miss this connection. Secondly, a typical mind will instantly link man’s being unchangeably bound by God’s almighty power to act in a sinful way with God’s being responsible for sin. Unfortunately, even though they say and write such blatant contradictions in the space of only a few sentences, most of these contradictions are ignored or missed. Instead, they repeatedly contradict themselves. God cannot be the author of sin because he is entirely holy and righteous. What other conclusion could be reasonably drawn? The first question which springs immediately to mind is, “How is God’s binding His creation to sin a good thing?” Unfortunately, the writers of The Westminster Confession of Faith offer no explanation to this question. Most people in the world have no experience of lasting joy in their lives. We’ve found that John Frame provides some significant help on how to talk about God’s sovereignty over sin. Of Free Will. To support this claim, they rely upon the argument of second causes. If that argument is sound, then a Reformed doctrine of the sovereignty of God does not imply that God is the author of sin. if someone makes a cake they do not become a cake themselves. “Let no one say when he is tempted,” writes James, “‘I am being tempted by God,’ The Westminster Assembly requested the English civil Parliament to suppress this blasphemous book. Is God disapproving of His own wisdom, will, and governing?” Sadly, we are again not given an answer. CHAPTER 3. Not at all. We’re on a mission to change that. “What I have maintained about the diversity of causes must not be forgotten: the proximate cause is one thing, the remote cause another.” (Calvin. I agree with you that Calvinists contradict themselves and are inconsistent with their own theology. . Lest there be confusion over language: the “author/story” model of God’s relation to creatures, which I [will advocate later], does not make God the “author of sin” in this sense. God from all eternity did by the most and holy counsel of his own will, freely and unchangeably ordain whatsoever comes to pass; yet so as thereby neither is God the author of sin; nor is violence offered to the will of the creatures, nor is the liberty or contingency of second causes taken away, but rather established. Some initial possibilities: authors, brings about, causes, controls, creates, decrees, foreordains, incites, includes within his plan, makes happen, ordains, permits, plans, predestines, predetermines, produces, stands behind, wills. They state that because the sinful act was not actually performed by God Himself, but only by the creature, God is not responsible for the sin. 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